Last month, female boxer Dr. Katia Bissonnette announced her withdrawal from a boxing championship in Quebec, Canada, after learning that she would be fighting a transgender athlete, Mya Walmsley, who was a man claiming to be the opposite sex. The two were competing in the 2023 Provincial Golden Glove Championship, a tournament that took place from October 27th to the 29th.
The event was hosted by the Quebec Boxing Federation and the KO-96 boxing club in Victoriaville, Quebec , and was an opportunity for beginners to potentially get the chance to compete nationally in the Canadian boxing championship. Bissonnette learned from her coach an hour before her fight that she would be facing a male opponent, leading to her decision to withdraw from the tournament. Walmsley was then declared the winner of the match by default.
"I came down from my hotel room to head towards the room where all the boxers were warming up. My coach suddenly took me aside and told me he received information by text message, which he had then validated, that my opponent was not a woman by birth. We did not have any other additional information," Bissonnette told Reduxx. The male fighter has no history of fighting against women in Canada, leading his female opponent, who hails from Australia, to remark, "[Walmsley] would have boxed as a man in Australia. In Quebec, on his file, it is mentioned that he had zero fights as a woman."
In response to the decision, Walmsley put out a statement to the press attacking Bissonnette and alleging that she was "outing" him. "Rather than turning to me, my coach, or the Quebec Olympic Boxing Federation for more information, she decided to turn directly to the media to out me," Walmsley claimed. "This kind of behavior puts athletes at risk of being excluded or receiving personal attacks based on hearsay … I am afraid that this type of accusation could eventually be used to delegitimize athletes in the women's category and justify arbitrary and invasive regulations." The male boxer went on to explain that athletes should "trust" each other and defer to coaches for fights with transgender individuals.
Bissonnette rejected these arguments and Walmsley's attempts to create such a standard, explaining that she didn't even understand how he was able to compete in the first place. "The rule issued from Boxing Canada to the Quebec Boxing Federation was not to reveal that the opponent was transsexual so that the latter would not be discriminated against. However, after confirmation, this policy only applies when a sex change has taken place before puberty," she said, adding that Walmsley's status as a foreign national does not provide a clear picture of his transition history.
The female boxer would then go on to cite studies showing that even the weakest men are superior to the strongest women in boxing, and thus, there is no way that the fight between the two would have been fair. As more and more athletes begin to realize the potential danger of allowing male fighters to enter the ring with females, the backlash against transgender athletes competing will continue. "Women shouldn't have to bear the physical and psychological risks brought by a man's decisions regarding his personal life and identity," Bissonnette said. "There should be two categories: biological male and female."
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